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Marty Offline OP
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Discussed in cabinet this week was the Belize National Curriculum Framework 2022, developed by the Ministry of Education. After months of consultation and focused effort by education stakeholders, the ministry plans to implement the new curriculum come next month when the new school year commences. The idea is basically to remove the fluff from the education system and put in place a curriculum which focuses on building competency in students from pre-primary through to secondary levels. Minister of Education Francis Fonseca says that it is to teach youths in subject areas that will help with the economic development of the country.

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education


"Moving away from a sort of time-based curriculum to a competency-based curriculum; more targeted learning outcomes, reducing the amount of learning outcomes, putting together lesson plans that can be used by teachers and schools across the country so a complete, revolutionary transformation of our curriculum. In Belize, as I have said many times, we are a small developing nation, we have to be teaching our students what matters, what is relevant to the economic development of Belize, what is relevant to the national development of Belize. And our students need to be learning what is important, what matters to them, what can provide them with the skills the knowledge the information, the values, the attitudes they need to be successful productive citizens of this country. That is what our curriculum has to be lazer focused on. So we can't be all over the place as we are now, scattered all over the place. We have to be strategically focused and that is the kind of transformation that we are doing with the curriculum."

Channel 5

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The past curriculum has definitely been behind the times for the past 2 decades or more. Teaching critical thinking and identifying aptitude will be practical. Watching kids struggle to get through complicated accounting courses in high school because the only other option was to take chemistry and biology has been brutal - we need to identify kids interests and where their skills lie and, with a basic frame work of a solid grip on English and Math they should work on honing in on classes that grab interest and are practical upon completion of high school. Those kids who wish to be professionals in particular fields should have the opportunity to get a solid base that they can spring from into 6th form and college but at that same time, artists, folks that prefer to work with their hands and those seeking a good foundation to let them evolve and grow in an entrepreneurial environment deserve to have an education that will guide them to be able to have life skills and basic business acumen so that they can protect their hard work and strengthen their ability to support themselves and others in adulthood.

We see so many high school dropouts because the curriculum has only catered to the old school systems - it is time to relevant, it is time to provide our kids with the skills they need to succeed and be productive in our new world. Many of our drop outs have no drive, they see their future as hopeless and feel as if they are worthless because society has said that a high school education is a "must" to succeed - I do hope we will be able to turn all of that on its head! Just about everyone has skills that can be honed - I really hope this is a step in the right direction into being inclusive for all our youth.

I also hope government can see the worth and need to establish trade schools around the country - we are seeing a skilled labour shortage in all technical aspects and fields - and yet we have some bright youth who are jobless as the opportunities to provide focus and certification has been available to a small handful of people in the past.

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Marty Offline OP
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Official launch of the National Curriculum Framework


Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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MoECST Launches the National Curriculum Framework

Over the past eight months, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology (MoECST) has been collaborating with education stakeholders to develop the National Curriculum Framework that will guide our transition to competency-based education in Belize. The framework was officially launched today.

The ministry has assembled a team of competent and experienced educators and professionals to produce the new competency-based curriculum for pre-schools and primary schools that will be based on the new National Curriculum Framework. In sequence will be the development of competency-based unit plans and assessments, utilising authentic student-centred pedagogies such as inquiry, discovery, cooperative, experiential, problem- and project-based learning. The upcoming 2022-2023 school year will serve as a transition and pilot year for all pre-schools and primary schools, as well as for the high schools that decide to participate. It will also serve as an important time to continue efforts at "catching up" for students who have fallen behind due to the pandemic. All pre-schools, primary schools, and secondary schools should be following the new National Curriculum Framework by the 2023-2024 school year.

The unit plans and assessments for pre-schools and primary schools will be available to all schools via the Ministry's virtual platform, www.501academy.edu.bz as per the schedule below. The unit plans and assessments will guide teachers and principals to develop their own lesson plans for this transition year. During the 2023-2024 academic year, lesson plans will be available for teachers and principals on the virtual platform. Unit plans and assessments for pre-schools and primary schools will be available incrementally on the ministry's virtual platform as follows:

- August 31, 2022 Unit Plans and Assessments for September and October 2022

- October 31, 2022 Unit Plans and Assessments for November and December 2022

- December 31, 2022 Unit Plans and Assessments for January and February 2023

- February 28, 2023 Unit Plans and Assessments for March and April 2023

- April 30, 2023 Unit Plans and Assessments for May and June 2023

The ministry will work closely with high schools that have an interest in commencing implementation of the National Curriculum Framework during the 2022-2023 school year. All high schools that would like to do so are asked to contact the Chief Education Officer at [email protected] by July 31, 2022.

In addition, in August 2022, the Teacher Learning Institute (TLI) will be offering professional development courses that will be focused on training teachers on competency-based education for pre-schools and primary schools. The courses will cover the National Curriculum Framework, an introduction to competency-based education and how to use the unit plans and assessments to develop lesson plans. There will be ongoing training throughout the 2022-2023 academic year on these and related topics. The ministry will be partnering with Pathlight International to deliver similar courses for high schools via the TLI.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Science, and Technology remains committed to the objective of reforming the national curriculum so that students can gain the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes needed for personal and national development. The ministry is always appreciative of the efforts of the extended education community, as together we continue to make education work for Belize.

Present at today's launch of the NCF were Hon. John Brice�o, Prime Minister of Belize; Ambassador Stuart Leslie, Cabinet Secretary and Chief of Staff; Hon. Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Technology; Hon. Dr. Louis Zabaneh, Minister of State, MoECST; H.E. David Kwan-Chou Chien, Ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to Belize; H.E. Mar�a Caridad Balaguer Labrada, Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba to Belize; Senator Hon. Elena Smith; Mrs. Dian Maheia, Chief Executive Officer, MoECST; and Ms. Yolanda Gongora, Chief Education Officer.

The National Curriculum Framework document can be accessed at www.moecst.gov.bz/media/publications

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Marty Offline OP
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New Curriculum Will Change The Classroom Experience

The Ministry of Education has launched its new National Curriculum Framework.

The gist of it? An innovative student-central curriculum where learning is personalized rather than institutional, and archaic punitive measures just for punishment's sake are removed from the educational experience.

7 News attended the launch and Jules Vasquez has the story:

It's called a competency-based curriculum - and at its launch today at the House of Culture, it was bannered as a revolution in education:

Dr. Louis Zabaneh, Min. Of State - Education
"The competency based curriculum will enable all students to learn how to think clearly, speak clearly, read well, write well, apply knowledge and understand and impact the world around them through social interactions, analytical thinking and human agency. New competencies that are being promoted include one, appreciation of the sacred nature of the human person and character development; two, emotional intelligence and effective communication skills; three, critical and innovative, inventive thinking; four, collaboration; five, multicultural appreciation; six, digital literacy and seven, understanding of and advocacy for sustainable human development."

Dr. Mathias Vairez, Curriculum Reform Steering Committee
"So, what is competency-based assessment? Competency based assessment should be a learning experience that is meaningful, positive, and empowering for all those involved. Primarily the student, the educator, and the educational leader. So, in competency based assessments we have to asses knowledge, we have to assess skills, we also have to assess what I refer to as the non-cognitive factors, the social emotional skills, the values, attitudes and character. What is the sense of having someone who has a 4.0 GPA academically but cannot relate with people, cannot collaborate with people? What's the sense?"

Dr. Priscilla Brown, Curriculum Reform Steering Committee
"It calls for an end to rhetorical teaching approaches in which students sit and listen, write notes and regurgitate information. It moves away from the traditional group activities once coined as student-centered where students sat in groups and communicate and restate information from a lesson. So that is what this is all about, it is focused on developing a clear understanding of concepts and demonstrating whole skills associated with meaningful and relevant lessons that tend to orientate learning. The focus is on mastery and not on regurgitation of ideas. We are all fixed on skills and focused on performance-based outcomes. This acknowledges that survival in the world of work and growing economy is not only what you know but what our students can do and their level of performance."

Miriam Paz, Teacher's Perspective
"It is a curriculum what emphasizes what learners are expected to do rather than focusing on what they are expected to know."

Yadira Sabal, Student's Perspective
"This new approach emphasizes that teachers provide opportunities to students to serve real-life problems, incorporate practical experiences and even challenge students to think outside the box by doing more class experiments and activities that will allow the student to be more interactive during class sessions."

It sounds like a revelation - but if it is - it was discovered after years of doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Now, they are finally trying something new.

Dr. Mathias Vairez, Curriculum Reform Steering Committee
"And consistently over 10 years looking at the PSE data, student achievements were low. More than 40% of the students not reaching the desired competency level or knowledge level. What was even more alarming was that there were special groups of students that even performed consistently lower over that ten-year period. Students coming from under-served communities, such as my community down south."

Dr. Louis Zabaneh, Min. Of State - Education
"It was unanimous that we have been straining under the weight of too many subjects and an excessive number of learning outcomes within subjects. Our children literally have had to carry large backpacks to school, many with wheels to ease the burden and parents have had to be doing their children's homework keeping them up late at night. Teachers have struggled to keep up with the ballooning expectations that by reducing our overload we provide the opportunity for our teachers to endure less harmful stress and for our students to improve their performance."

Elena Smith, BNTU President
"We are overburdened, we spend so much time planning lessons that we have little time to plan activities, and games for our students."

Dr. Louis Zabaneh, Min. Of State - Education
"We are convinced that together we can finally break the shackles of a dysfunctional education system and transform to provide a high-quality education for our students. The victory will be for all of us and especially for our children."

But there's no magic wand to set the students free from a failed education system - and this implementation will take at least another year:

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education
"As we've said, this year is a transition year, a pilot year and certainly based on this years' experience we will learn certain things which will allow us to make changes and adapt the curriculum so that come next year I believe we will be able to implement it fully and effectively."

And that's - of course - in consultation with stakeholders - including the churches - which led us to ask what temporal or spiritual shape this new curriculum will take.

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education
"I don't think we should try to box the curriculum into any type of framework. No, we are not about teaching our students through any prism. I don't want to limit it to a Christian prism or any other prism. We are not, but a central component of this curriculum of course is values-based education as well. So, we understand that it is an integral component of producing quality citizens."

Dr. Louis Zabaneh, Min. Of State - Education
"We're not branding specifically what the curriculum will be, whether it's a liberal or conservative curriculum. It's a Belizean curriculum that is going to be serving the needs of Belize's development."

An easy generalization - but in the months to come - his partners in education will surely require definitives.

Will New Curriculum Displace Teachers?

And one concern raised by the teachers union is that as the new curriculum emerges, certain subjects will be merged, and that could put some teachers out of a job.

That concern was raised by the BNTU president today and we got responses from the Ministers:

Elena Smith, BNTU President
"Some teachers who were teaching certain subjects will no longer have that subject to teach because we are combining a few. So, where do I go now? What happens to me now if my subject is being combined with another one? Two of us can't teach the same subject. So, our teachers are the secondary level are concerned that they may lose their jobs in this process. While we have said to them that we will do our best to ensure that doesn't happen, the decision doesn't lie with the union, it lies with the ministry."

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education
"This will not lead to the displacement or termination of teachers. New training, re-tooling and that sort of thing but not displacement."

Reporter
"So, in a sense we are repurposing teachers for example then?"

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education
"That may be yes, that may be one of the results of this exercise that we have to repurpose teachers and have them focus on other areas of emphasis that are outlined in this curriculum framework."

Dr. Louis Zabaneh, Min. Of State - Education
"At the secondary level for example we have just a little over 50% of students in the secondary sector. So, as we expand and increase accessibility to students in that sector, we will actually need more teachers, not less."

We'll keep following the implementation.

Channel 7


Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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New Curriculum Launched But Not Delivered?

Some teachers have expressed concern about this newly reformed curriculum that is supposed to roll out during the upcoming school year. It's been launched, but the modules have not been delivered to schools.

This morning, Minister Zabaneh had to take on questions about this when he made a guest appearance on KREM's Morning show.

Here are his comments on that line of inquiry:

Reporter
"Teachers are saying, listen, we haven't seen this yet, and classes are to start pretty soon."

Dr. Louis Zabaneh, Minister of State/Education
"What has traditionally - it's a transition year. So, it's expected. During this time, the teachers, on their own, would have on their own be working on their lesson plans, unit plans, and all that. So, we took their recommendation, and we've had teams of teachers who have exhibited best practices, etc., who have now been putting together unit plans and the assessments to go with a competency-based curriculum. The lesson plans themselves know that that involves more work. So in this transition year, we will be soliciting lesson plans so that we can take the best ones and put them up as well, so that by the end of the year when we start the next academic year, those will also be up for teachers. So, you have many teachers now who would be used to doing certain things at this time, and they're not doing it because we are working to put these up by the end of this month so that when they start school, they can go there and pull them down. So, what they're doing instead is they're involved with the Teacher Learning Institute, and there we talk about what competency-based education is, introducing them to that. How will it be different from what we've been doing before? How do we assess competency? So, these are no different things that they're doing, which is maybe, you know, a little bit strange for many teachers. And I think that's where maybe some of that is coming from."

Channel 7


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